Reflections by the Pond

#726: First Love

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September 21, 2015

In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.
1 John 4:10

During my earliest years, I certainly knew about God, but I did not yet love Him. My parents began taking me to church when I was still in a basket. A few years later, I was old enough to sit upright in the wooden pew, but was utterly bored with the proceedings, requiring some sort of amusement during the hour-long service. I wasn't paying much attention, but I was there, soaking it all in. I was steadily hearing about God, but I did not yet love Him.

I did not know it at the time, but He already loved me. In fact, he knew and loved me before I was even conceived...

#725: I Stand Amazed

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September 14, 2015

I stand amazed in the presence
Of Jesus the Nazarene,
And wonder how He could love me,
A sinner, condemned, unclean.
Charles H. Gabriel

Words, today, have been sapped of much of their primal substance and energy. Only one example need be cited to make the point. To wit, "awesome." Is there any concept or word-picture less awesome than the current use of the word "awesome"? With what word shall we describe a powerful experience such as standing at the edge of the Grand Canyon, or at the foot of the Grand Tetons, when "awesome" is the word of choice to describe a teenager's favorite tune or movie?

#724: The Actuality of Christ

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September 7, 2015

Give as 'twas given to you in your need,
Love as the Master loved you;
Be to the helpless a helper indeed,
Unto your mission be true.
Ira B. Wilson

Every believer is the actuality of Jesus. Every believer is called to model in flesh the compassion, kindness, longsuffering, and forgiveness of the Savior. For a world that will not acknowledge the invisible truth about God, we must be, for them, the first Jesus they experience. We must, for the moment, be Him in flesh—His face, His hands, His tactile love...

#723: Not Like Us

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August 31, 2015

Now it came about in the thirtieth year, on the fifth day of the fourth month, while I was by the river Chebar among the exiles, the heavens were opened and I saw visions of God.
Ezekiel 1:1

Our position in Christ notwithstanding, it is healthy and profitable to remember that our God is not like us. We may be created in His image, but that does not mean that He is on our level. Like Ezekiel, like Isaiah, like the apostle John, if we would suddenly find ourselves in His presence we would not grin and reach out a hand to shake His; we would not slap Him on the back and tell Him a joke; we would not offer our list of nagging questions about this and the other thing. No, in the presence of Father God we would—we one day will—fall on our face before Him, overwhelmed by His majesty and blinding holiness...

#722: Consumed in Christ

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August 24, 2015

Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body; and be thankful. Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God. Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father.
Colossians 3:15-17

Too many Christians—perhaps most—think of their relationship with their Savior as just another friend or acquaintance, just another appointment on the calendar, just one more item to check off on their to-do list. Even though they call Him "Lord," Jesus remains in their minds just one more item in a long list of activities, interests, obligations. But the privilege of being a Christianos, a follower of Jesus the Messiah, carries with it far more than this—indeed, far more than fleshly mind can imagine...

#721: Born With the Yearning

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August 17, 2015

The longing to rise, though congenital, may still surprise. It comes upon us during moments of wonder and grace, moments of rapture tinged with the spiritual. It may take our breath away in moments we understand, but that are too wonderful to contain, such as moments when we cradle our newborn child, or gaze upon the face of a loved one just passed. Because all of nature is His, it very often comes upon us when we are surrounded by those things for which man is not responsible, such as during a stroll in the early morning wonder of God's creation.

We carry it within. It is as much a part of us as our first breath. To reject it is the same as to cut off an arm or gouge out an eye. To embrace it is to accept the fact that we are forever incomplete without God...

#720: Adaptation over Immutability

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August 10, 2015

"Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth? Tell Me, if you have understanding."
Job 38:4

The bright sweetness of God cannot be enjoyed after it has been rubbed dull by the earth's abrasive darkness. Indeed, by such treatment it is rendered unrecognizable. And it is the height of man's arrogance to presume to refashion an omnipotent, omniscient, eternal God. To remake God is to reduce Him (in the mind) to a small god—that is, no God at all, but a mere idol. Of what earthly good is a god fashioned from the soil? What profit is there in rising toward someone already lower than oneself? For, by its very nature, whatever is fashioned by man is something lower than he who made it; the creator is always superior to the thing created.

To change God from what He is, is to set man above Him. And any attempt to change Him is to say, "I will remain who I am, and bring God down to my level." To change God is to reverse the universal order of our being, for, in His universe, He is the one who creates and refashions...

#719: Loving the Familiar

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August 3, 2015

Therefore, having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all defilement of flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.
2 Corinthians 7:1

So we cling to what we know: doing, rather than being. It is far easier to join a committee, or serve coffee at the social, than to have an intimate relationship with an invisible God. And, as a result, our faith becomes root-bound—not rooted and grounded in the love of Christ, but rooted into the familiar soil from which we came, and thus firmly anchored in the plane He is inviting us to leave. The higher life begins with understanding that a foot in the door is not the same as dwelling inside; buying a ticket for entrance through the Pearly Gates is not the same as living a life comfortable with what is inside...

#718: Deciding to Rise

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July 27, 2015

"By the sweat of your face
You will eat bread,
Till you return to the ground,
Because from it you were taken;
For you are dust,
And to dust you shall return."
Genesis 3:19

The beginning of change is the decision to make it. The Spirit calls to the heart of man, igniting a longing for God—a longing not just for redemption, but for something better; not just for holiness, but for a higher plane. There is something better, and God knows what it is. But man and woman must decide whether they will live with God on His higher plane, or remain stuck in the foul muck of earth...

#717: Faith's Natural Enemy

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July 20, 2015

[King Uzziah's] fame spread afar, for he was marvelously helped until he was strong. But when he became strong, his heart was so proud that he acted corruptly, and he was unfaithful to the Lord his God, for he entered the temple of the Lord to burn incense on the altar of incense.
2 Chronicles 26:15b-16

Pride is built into man from the factory. It is part of his original equipment. It is, perhaps, that part of man requiring the most intensive retraining by the Spirit of God, for it is the root of his rebellion, and the comfortable home base of his cognitive sin.

Pride is that part of us that keeps God at arm's length—even in a Christian's life. We stiff-arm the Creator of the universe, because we are of the opinion that our inbred resources are superior to His. Pride in the unbeliever keeps him from knowing Christ at all; pride in the believer keeps him isolated from the benefits, the blessings, the power of that relationship.

Thus it is faith's natural enemy...